Looking Forward: Elections in Myanmar

Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia formerly called Burma before it was renamed by the military junta that currently control it, plans to hold elections in 2010. The last elections were held in 1990 when pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi won most of the vote but was not allowed by the military to take power. Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for much of the time since then. Myanmar is a severely repressed state where citizens are not even allowed to stay the night in other people’s houses. This is the technicality that led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest being extended when an American man who believed he was sent by God swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s house and then, claiming illness, stayed overnight. Sanctions have been imposed against Myanmar, meaning that it is illegal for Western businesses to sell goods to the country, The New American.

The upcoming  elections are an attempt to legitimize the government in hopes of one day having the sanctions lifted and being accepted in the global community.  However, at least one fourth of the seats will go to members of the military and democratic activists like Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to participate. Reuters Q & A on the elections. Comprehensive analysis of the impact of elections by the International Crisis Group.

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